“I’m going to bring it back home to my roots,” bellowed Fat Tony as he stood behind a set of turntables in the center of the stage. He quickly wiped the sweat away from his forehead before turning his attention back to the music and turning up the volume. The opening guitar riff from Brooks & Dunn’s “Neon Moon” played through the speakers. Audience members who had been milling around the open courtyard at Axelrad began making their way towards the stage, taking out their phones in anticipation of what was about to happen.
Fat Tony stepped out from behind the turntables to meet the oncoming crowd at the edge of the stage, and after hyping up the crowd, returned back to his table as the chorus began to play. At the height of Brooks and Dunn crooning about the neon moon Tony blended in the bouncy, bass beat of Too Short’s “Blow The Whistle”.
“Houston! Axelrad! Can we get it a little louder out here?!”
The crowd screamed in unison as the MC stepped forward again to meet the crowd.
Saturday night had Fat Tony leading his return to stage with opening performances from Kam Franklin and Lucas/Heaven. While there where predictions of heavy rain for the weekend there was not a cloud in the sky. It wasn’t dry though. Houstonians who came to view the free event in the open air of Axelrad’s beer garden were met with extremely hot and muggy weather. It didn’t stop fans from coming out 85-degree evening.
Fat Tony’s set was split between a showcase of his DJ skills and performances from his catalog, most notably his recent album, Exotica. Running through singles like “Feeling Groovy” and “Je ne sais quoi.” Fat Tony showed fans and bystanders just how catching his live performance can be.
Lucas/Heaven stands behind his band after performing his set.
Photo by Meron Tilahun
“Whether you came here because you wanted to see me or happened to be here, and the show started. I love you all,” exclaimed Tony as he moved back and forth between performer and DJ.
The show highlighted performances from three musical entries that are wildly different but share in their strong abilities to put on live performances. Kam Franklin, the lead singer of The Suffers, belted out notes into the night sky, giving fans a preview of her upcoming solo album. Lucas/Heaven, backed by his band demonstrated his skills on the guitar at one point broke out a talkbox and serenade the crowd with a robotic voice. For some of the performers, Saturday night was the first time they’ve been able to hit the stage since Covid. Lucas/Heaven expressed how important it was to finally be in front a live audience.
“The live performance scene is coming back Slowly but surely. It’s a good thing,” he said shortly after stepping off the stage.,
Kam Franklin poses with bandmates after previewing solo material from her upcoming album.
Photo by Meron Tilahun
It wasn’t just the performers that were happy to be out. Diana Tolliver Sessor, mother of Kam Franklin was in the audience.
“Its wonderful to be out again,” she said while taking a break between performers. “I just love to see her achieve. Long ago I told her to do what’s best for yourself because you don’t want to look back with regret. You just need to do what you need to do. Now I get to see her do what she loves.”
With Kam continuing to work towards the release of the new solo project as well as a new Suffers album, Lucas/Heaven getting song placements on Netflix, and Fat Tony having music in Amazon original programing, expect to hear a lot more from all three acts.